Skip to main content

Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

See other formats


public and private life and respect for property are the positive
virtues mainly inculcated: intemperance in eating and drinking,
unchastity, slander, sloth, excessive self-confidence, are all con-
demned as incompatible with good living.   (Virtues conspicuous
by their absence are courage, self-sacrifice, intellectual truthful-
ness, and the virile qualities generally.)   But though the moral
aspects of wisdom are most emphasized, there are not wanting
suggestions of its intellectual aspects connecting the thought of
the writers of the Proverbs in a somewhat remote way with Greek
speculation.  The Wise Men of Israel were most concerned about
the problems of human life, but were not wholly unobservant of
nature, especially as providing evidence for providential design.
This side of Jewish wisdom appears in one or two passages in the
Proverbs.   Thus:   " The Lord by wisdom founded the earth:
By understanding he established the heavens/**   Then in the
famous passage in the eighth chapter, Wisdom is personified and
attributed to the Creator before the world was fashioned.   We
seem entitled to infer from such passages that the youths who
learned the wisdom of the Wise Men might include in their
learning some of the rather crude notions about the universe that
constituted Jewish science.

2. Throughout the Proverbs it is assumed that education is
primarily the business of the parents. The injunction in the first
chapter is typical: " My son, hear the instruction of thy father,
and forsake not the teaching of thy mother." The child is regarded
as an integral part of the family. A good son is a source of credit
to his parents, a bad son a cause of shame. The whole family is
implicated in the behaviour of each of its members. But while
the father and mother are regarded as the parties directly respon-
sible for the upbringing of the child, the book of Proverbs refers
also to a group of special teachers—the so-called Wise Men,
Who these Wise Men were is not known. Some authorities have
identified them with the scribes, but it is not conceivable that the
scribes would at any time have ignored the Law as the Wise Men
actually do in Proverbs. Perhaps they are best described as
practical philosophers whose main concern was with matters of
conduct and who were cosmopolitan in their indifference to
Jewish, traditions. But for the fact that they were evidently not
interested in logical and metaphysical questions, they might be

* iii. 10.